The GAMA medical clinic in Warman has been designated a Saskatchewan Health Authority Primary Health Center

The newest Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) Primary Health Center facility will likely begin operations in early August.

An SHA Primary Health Center sign was installed on the GAMA medical clinic in Warman on July 13.

An official announcement regarding details of the facility’s operations and personnel is tentatively expected to be made the first week in August, according to an SHA media relations spokesperson.

“It’s an exciting development, because it’s a stepping stone to improving access to primary health care in the region north of Saskatoon as a whole,” said Warman Mayor Gary Philipchuk in an interview following a Warman City Council meeting on Monday, July 17. “Communities in this area have been pushing the provincial government for a long time now to boost the SHA health care presence and increase access to services.”

Philipchuk said while there has not been an official announcement yet, he expects nurse practitioners will be among the health care professionals staffing the SHA Primary Health Center facility.

“I don’t know the details of how many nurse practitioners are coming or the exact start dates,” said Philiphchuk.

The Warman Mayor said representatives from the region have been meeting regularly with Martensville-Warman MLA Terry Jenson, Health Minister Paul Merriman, and Premier Scott Moe for several months, stressing the need for an SHA primary health clinic outside Saskatoon to help relieve pressure on hospital emergency rooms.

“The only option our residents have after hours and on weekends is to go in to Saskatoon,” said Philipchuk. “Those emergency services are stretched to the limit. So if we can try and help them and work with them to say, ‘how can we have primary health care happen here in this region?’ and have that first initial treatment here, that should help take some of the pressure off Saskatoon.”

Philipchuk said private medical clinics in the region have been trying for many years to attract more physicians, but it’s been an uphill struggle because of a variety of factors.

“All of our private clinics would like to have more employees, called doctors, but they’re unable to attract them to their current facilities right now,” said Philipchuk. “Maybe this facility can be a stepping stone to allow the province to be able to do the recruiting to be able to get the health care professionals we need to help share the workload.

“Anytime you have more access then it’s at least increasing the opportunity for more primary care to happen here in the city of Warman and the other communities nearby.

“I’m looking at this as an opportunity for the SHA to do the hiring and see the challenges and opportunities here in the region, and buffer a lot of those cases that currently go in to Saskatoon.”

Philipchuk said a primary health centre doesn’t necessarily have to be a hospital.

“We want those best hospitals in Saskatoon,” he said. “But we need a facility locally that has extended hours and is accessible; one that can handle primary care cases, shorter stays, and urgent minor medical emergencies.

“I want to congratulate the SHA on establishing a primary health centre in Warman so we can be part of the solution to health care in the region and the province.”